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Symptom Experience of Family Caregivers of Patients With Cancer

Barbara A. Swore Fletcher

Marylin Dodd

Karen Schumacher

Christine A. Miaskowski

caregiver stress, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, compassion fatigue, pain experience
ONF 2008, 35(2), E23-E44. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.E23-E44

Purpose/Objectives: To review the literature on depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and pain in family caregivers of patients with cancer in the context of the Symptom Management Model (SMM) developed at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Data Sources: Published research studies and systematic reviews from 1990-2007.

Data Synthesis: Studies of depressive symptoms in caregivers of patients with cancer were the most numerous. A limited number of studies examined anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and pain. Most studies focused on the symptom experience dimension of the UCSF SMM.

Conclusions: Based on the small sample sizes, cross-sectional nature of the studies, and lack of comparison groups, little is known about the prevalence and effects of symptoms in caregivers of patients with cancer.

Implications for Nursing: Additional research is needed to determine the prevalence, severity, and effects of symptoms on caregivers. Better descriptive, correlational studies will lead to the development of interventions to improve symptom management for this group of caregivers.

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